Every once in a while, you find a supervillain, an archnemesis, who you love to hate, or do you hate to love? Let’s take a look at my top 5 picks for villains in a British drama.
5. Jonathan Teatime
Hogfather (2006): Marc Warren channels the childlike voice of Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, made all the more creepy with mismatched eyes and a dagger. Teatime (not pronounced like 4:00) is a psychotic assassin hired by the auditors to kill the Hogfather, but Teatime decides to take it to the next step and kill all mythological characters, including the tooth fairy, the soul cake duck, and Death, which proves difficult when he learns that Death’s granddaughter is a fiery young governess by the name of Susan Sto Helit.
4. James Moriarty
Sherlock (2010-2012): Andrew Scott may not have been everyone’s natural pick, but once you see him in the role, you can’t imagine anyone else. Winning a BAFTA for the part, Scott’s portrayal of the classic criminal mastermind brags the ability to blend in with the commoners and to express himself in violently crazy lines of dialogue and facial expressions. He is the perfect old-fashion villain counterpart for Cumberbatch’s young, modern Holmes.
Supernatural (2005-2013): Mark Sheppard plays the quick-tongued cross-roads demon who lies and cheats his way onto the throne of hell. In season 8, he proved to be one of the greatest villains of all time, not because he concocted a plan to take over the world or capture loads of people into hell. Instead, he found the one thing that would hurt the protagonists the most: kill all the people they’ve spent the last 9 years sacrificing their lives to save. Not only that, but in the season finale, we get to see his human, redemption-seeking side after being injected with purified human blood. (Okay, I cheated a little on this because Supernatural is not British, but the actor and character are.)
2. The Master
Doctor Who (2007-2010): John Simm picks up a role that has been played by others before him, including Anthony Ainley and Derek Jacobi. The Master went insane when he was young, but keeps himself together enough to concoct plans to take over the world, destroying all of humankind. His first act is to become prime minister. Failing his first attempt at global domination, he returns seasons later, broken and more insane than ever, eating everything—and everyone—in sight. But still, there is a brotherly camaraderie between the Doctor and the Master, as they were childhood friends (as often heroes and villains are) and they are the last of their race.
1. Jim Keats
Ashes to Ashes (2010): Danny Mays plays Jim Keats, in my opinion, the best baddie TV has to offer. You know he’s bad. You know he’s lying. But his lies can be so sincere and sweet that it messes with your head. Maybe he’s not the bad guy, maybe it’s Gene Hunt, our hero, who is actually the bad guy. It wouldn’t be the first time the writers try to get us to believe that, so maybe it’s true. He’s the embodiment of modern police work: no sexism, by-the-book, orderly, clean, so how could he be bad. After all, Sam Tyler was like that and he was our hero in the show’s sister series, Life on Mars. But in the end, Keats drops the act and becomes a terrifying, snarling, even barking supervillain, plotting to take the gang straight to Hell. Is he the devil? A demon? Frank Morgan? There is some debate about that even between writers of the show.